Don’t Cry for Samsung. It’s Doing Fine.

PR is a tricky art—sometimes what looks like a big win turns out to be anything but, and companies that seem to be stuck in the PR doghouse may actually be doing much better than they appear.

There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have brought a string of negative news for Samsung, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer. The latest development in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung fight indicates that the company’s biggest iRival isn’t happy to leave a mere flesh wound. After winning the big copyright suit, the Silicon Valley tech god’s reps filed a motion on Friday to ban the sale of each offending product in the US—and they’d also like an extra $700 million in damages just to round things out.

Sounds like Apple has Samsung down for the count, right? And no one, not even the company’s own representatives, has tried to argue that it makes the more innovative, higher-quality products.

Here’s the thing, though: Samsung is doing just fine despite all this noise. In fact, it’s doing better than ever.

You may have heard that Apple already sold 5 million copies of the iPhone 5, yet the adjective most commonly used to describe that total is “disappointing”, because Apple execs’ top estimates were twice as high. Samsung’s mobile/smartphone sales numbers, on the other hand, nearly doubled over the past year—and the company’s stock rose 65%.

Why? Because Samsung has pursued the time-tested strategy of offering the masses a cheap(er) ripoff of a successful product. It’s really that simple.

The New York Times business columnist James B. Stewart writes, “One group that Samsung clearly hasn’t won over is design purists,” because in terms of design the plastic Galaxy S III is obviously inferior to the glass-and-aluminum iPhone. But the market just doesn’t care.

We can see why Apple is suing the hell out of Samsung. The company obviously has some legitimate claims about copyright violation, but Apple’s people are also scared that Samsung will continue to dominate the industry by selling an imitation product that still wins the day by virtue of being cheaper and working well.

In a cut-throat market like this one, are Samsung’s recent PR troubles just a bunch of noise? Will the company remain the world’s top mobile phone maker despite the fact that everyone acknowledges Apple’s superior designs?